Definition of leaf in English:


Syllabification: leaf
Pronunciation: /lēf

noun (plural leaves /lēvz/)

  • 1A flattened structure of a higher plant, typically green and bladelike, that is attached to a stem directly or via a stalk. Leaves are the main organs of photosynthesis and transpiration. Compare with compound leaf, leaflet.
    More example sentences
    • The female Thrypticus deposits an egg in a water-hyacinth petiole - the stalk that attaches the leaf to the stem.
    • Shoots of M. micrantha were separated into stems, leaves, and reproductive organs.
    • The egg-sacs are deposited in twisted leaves or may be directly attached to a leaf.
  • 1.1Any of a number of plant structures similar to leaves, e.g., bracts, sepals, and petals.
  • 1.2Foliage regarded collectively.
    More example sentences
    • To provide a backdrop to this foliage-ruled leafscape, use climbers to link together canopies of leaf.
    • She kept her eyes straight ahead as she flew over the rest of the clearing and then into a dense forest, her bare feet racing and leaping over stone and leaf.
    • Providing you prepare the soil well, and top dress every year with more compost, you can plant climbers quite densely, two or three feet apart, for a wealth of leaf, colour and scent.
  • 1.3The state of having leaves: the trees are still in leaf
    More example sentences
    • And our interest does not stop when the saplings go into leaf.
    • The bare branches of deciduous trees don't muffle noises like they do when they're in leaf.
    • Lift, divide and spread out winter aconites while still in leaf.
  • 1.4The leaves of tobacco or tea: [as modifier]: leaf tea
    More example sentences
    • This type of smokeless tobacco comes in loose leaf, plugs or twists.
    • In other words, tobacco used to be a herbal medicine but public experimentation led to the smoking of the tobacco leaf.
    • So I got some tobacco leaf, mixed it with water and gave it to the baby.
  • 2A thing that resembles a leaf in being flat and thin, typically something that is one of two or more similar items forming a set or stack.
    More example sentences
    • Flat, thin leaves of horn were translucent and used for windowpanes in place of glass.
  • 2.1A single thickness of paper, especially in a book with each side forming a page.
    More example sentences
    • There stood my ‘sister’, and a small box containing a single leaf of paper.
    • With stifled sobs, she unfolded the single leaf of paper from within and began to read the rigid, soldier-like writing.
    • He went over to her and took the book from her hand; still keeping the page he then marked the page with a small leaf of paper.
  • 2.2 [with modifier] Gold, silver, or other specified metal in the form of very thin foil.
    More example sentences
    • He recently began to put gold and silver metal leaf under the paint, and he uses a hand-rubbing technique to create a soft, antiqued look.
    • In the early 1970s very thin leaf gold was skillfully implanted on rhodochrosite to make spectacular faked specimens.
    • The stacks were then hammered until the gold had spread sufficiently to make a thin foil or leaf.
  • 2.3The hinged part or flap of a door, shutter, or table.
    More example sentences
    • Place the hinge leaf in the mortise and position the self-centering tool in the countersink recesses of the hinge.
    • Take the old hinge screw or the hinge leaf with you to the store to make sure the new screw is the right size for your hinge.
    • A large solitary crane takes off to the left, subtly guiding the eye towards the missing leaf of the double door or shutter where the seascape doubtless continued.
  • 2.4An extra section inserted to extend a table.
    More example sentences
    • They are a little like the leaves of a dining table that can be used to make it longer.
    • Clear the writing items off the desk, take out the leaf in the table, hide the telephone and get rid of the porcelain figurines!
  • 2.5The inner or outer part of a cavity wall or double-glazed window.
    More example sentences
    • In consequence, the tiling could not be nailed at every course and relied solely on the mortar bedding to the outer leaf of brickwork.
    • Remove the outer brick leaf to damp proof course level and rebuild the walling, ensuring the wall ties are inserted in the correct positions.
  • 2.6Any of the stacked metal strips that form a leaf spring.


[no object] Back to top  
  • 1(Of a plant, especially a deciduous one in spring) put out new leaves.
    More example sentences
    • But if you prune back hard or after the tree leafs out in spring, it may be slower to come into bloom that year.
    • Ash trees were leafing up, the hedges were thick.
    • Most trees are leafing out already; some have made significant progress.
  • 2 (leaf through) Turn over (the pages of a book or the papers in a pile), reading them quickly or casually: he leafed through the stack of notes
    More example sentences
    • You can turn the pages as though leafing through the book.
    • Next to that is another device - a page turner that automatically leafs through any book placed on a raised platform, operated at the touch of a button.
    • He approached it on tip toes, leafing through a pile of papers on the surface.
    flip through, thumb through, flick through, skim through/over, browse through, glance through/over, riffle through, rifle through; scan, run one's eye over, peruse


shake (or tremble) like a leaf

(Of a person) tremble greatly, especially from fear.
More example sentences
  • Absolutely terrified and trembling like a leaf, I sat down and played for him.
  • I was shaking like a leaf on the first tee, as nervous standing over the ball as I had ever been in my life.
  • I was shaking like a leaf, and she told me to ring the police.

take a leaf out of someone's book

see book.

turn over a new leaf

see turn.



Pronunciation: /ˈlēfij/
More example sentences
  • The inn-keeper in the Milan version is vexed and disconcerted with the frugality of the meal of leafage and bread, which has been contemptuously served on a tin plate.
  • Here and there, a sweet chestnut still in full summer leafage dotted the grassland, and a couple of miles away, a stand of willow marked the line of Possum Creek where it twisted and turned, dipping at last into light woodland.
  • Among them are the carved rosette and floral vines emanating from the crest along the upper stiles, the five curved slats with leafage and fish-scale carving, and the pendant rosettes on the front legs.


More example sentences
  • There are tables and chairs for the notional interiors; the stark silhouettes of leafless trees are picked out against white walls; at one end some wooden frames denote an old, abandoned silver mine.
  • It was perhaps a natural thought that the approach of winter should drive the shivering, hungry ghosts just like the cattle from the bare fields and leafless woods into the warm cottages.
  • In Germany huge swathes of the Black Forest died, leaving the stark outlines of leafless conifers in place of the formerly rich vegetation.


More example sentences
  • For another, they've taken to tarting up their lattes with leaf-like artwork carved into the foam with subtle tricks of the wrist while pouring the drinks.
  • It's the circular leaf-like shape of the island that gives Antigua its undulating shoreline, within which so many of its famed beaches are nestled.
  • More detailed morphological analysis of this extreme phenotype showed the conversion of stamens into very small leaf-like structures.


Old English lēaf, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch loof and German Laub.

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elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody